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What is Genu Varum?

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Genu varum, or bowlegs, may present at any time from infancy through adulthood. It can affect one or both legs. Medical and genetic history may help doctors understand how the condition will progress and for how long. As genu varum becomes more severe, the patient may start to waddle and have discomfort while walking. In children up to 2 years old, painless bowing on both sides may occur and often fixes itself over time.

What causes genu varum?

Genu varum is normal in the very young and may happen in older children due to rickets and Blount’s disease, or because of bone problems, infections or tumors.

Genu varum symptoms

One or both legs may show bowing, often just below the knee, even when the ankles are together. It may progress rapidly and unevenly.

Genu varum diagnosis

An orthopedic specialist will look at the legs to determine how far they bend inward and will confirm the diagnosis with an X-ray of the knee.

Genu varum correction treatment options

Bow-leggedness that causes problems and does not fix itself will be seen in X-rays and may need treatments, including surgery. Physical therapy exercises, special shoes and limits on standing and activity may be needed before or after surgery. Guided growth may be the best genu varum treatment to help straighten the limb. In certain cases, genu varum treatment with osteotomy (the surgical cutting of a bone or removal of a piece of bone) and an external fixation device is necessary.

Genu varum complications

If severe bow-leggedness is not treated, the symptoms can worsen, causing different leg lengths, pain and difficulties with mobility.

The condition can come back after surgery, especially in younger children, who are still growing. An orthopedic specialist can help you determine the right time to perform surgery.